The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

New chick gear

new chick gear for 2011

We've decided to give up on our Cochin hen going broody and ordered some new chick gear.

The above mini advance incubator only holds 7 eggs at a time, which feels like it might be just enough if we plan on doing multiple sets throughout the year.

cold chicks on a wet nightUsing the Eco-Glow chick brooder might pay for itself pretty quick compared to the old heat lamp system. They claim it's one 10th the cost at only 18 watts. Last year I made an error in judgement when choosing the proper distance for a heat lamp and almost burned the brooder down. This new type of heat delivery feels 10 times safer, and I like the idea of the chicks getting the full day night cycle. That light being on all the time caused me to wonder if it was adding stress where we didn't need it.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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The traditional heat-lamp used for brooding chicks is 250 watts, which you leave on for about a month. I figure that uses 180 kwh, versus 13 kwh for the eco-glow. Our electricity costs about 12 cents per kwh at the moment, so we'd save $20 with each brood we raise using the eco-glow! With shipping, it cost $75, so if we hatch out four broods this year, the brooder will have paid for itself. I'm just surprised everyone doesn't use these!
Comment by anna Tue Mar 22 19:54:01 2011

Hi there Walden's,

I hope that coffee pot works out for you, if it does I may be interested. I don't need chicks, our 4 city chickens are great workers, giving us eggs and keeping weeds down. It would be fun to have chicks though (with out the hassle of heat lamps etc). I'm glad I found you folks, although I don't remember how.

Cheers Shane

Comment by Shane Wed Mar 23 00:32:40 2011
I sure hope it's a little more than a coffee pot. :-) I'm not positive it will work for us --- we don't keep room temperature very stable inside, which has been a problem when incubating in the past, but I'm hopeful that this higher tech unit will save the day.
Comment by anna Wed Mar 23 08:23:07 2011
Unless you can reduce the distance from the heat source to the chicks by a factor of √(250/13)= 4.38, there is no way you're going to get anywhere near the same amount of heating by replacing a 250 W IR lamp by a 13 W heating plate! (and that is assuming that the heating plate is well insulated on top and no heat is lost there)
Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Mar 23 14:59:38 2011

I think you reduce the distance by at least that much, actually. The eco-glow has radiant heat, and is made so that you can let the chicks actually touch the heating surface, mimicking how they would huddle under a mother hen. In contrast, a brood light is usually rated to be no closer to the birds (and bedding) than about 18 inches. Basically, the light is heating the air, not the chicks.

I won't be convinced until I try it, but so far, I think the idea is ingenious!

Comment by anna Wed Mar 23 15:13:30 2011
An IR lamp does not heat the air directly, because our atmosphere doesn't absorb infrared very well. (if it did, it wouldn't cool down much at night, and you wouldn't feel the radiant heat from your stove so well)
Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Mar 23 15:31:17 2011
Good point, although I don't think that most of the chick lights are entirely infrared. Some of them have a red cast to them, but all of them have visible light. (Or at least all of the ones I've seen.)
Comment by anna Wed Mar 23 15:57:58 2011

Every incandescent light bulb produces way more heat (90%) than visible light (2%).

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Mar 23 16:12:29 2011
I had figured that the brood lamps were taking advantage of the inefficiencies of incandescent lights, but didn't realize they were that extreme!
Comment by anna Wed Mar 23 16:23:36 2011
We bought the same brand of mini-incubator to incubate small batches of quail eggs at our nature center - they're part of our sustainability exhibit! We've been very happy with customer service over the phone (I was a very nervous first time quail mom!), ease of use, and hatching rate. It's really fun for visitors to look through the clear sides and see the eggs...hatching was gradual over a two day period, and they could look in to see the eggs twitching and chicks work themselves out. The only problem we had was when we lifted the lid to remove some chicks, it's such a small container that the humidity dropped dramatically and one chick dried up in its egg. Next time I'll mist the eggs after doing that.
Comment by Sarah Fri Mar 25 08:20:52 2011
I really appreciate you chiming in --- it's great to hear the good and the bad of the system up front! We'll have to keep the humidity issue in mind if we have a variable hatch over time.
Comment by anna Fri Mar 25 08:33:52 2011

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